Let’s Be One – An Act of the Spirit

The one new man (Jew and Gentile one in Messiah) is a very important goal that we as the people of God need to keep ever before us. Yeshua prayed that His people would be one for a very specific purpose (John 17). So that the world would know and believe that the Father sent His Son and has loved them.

Our oneness with each other in Him speaks volumes to the world. If we claim to want to see people saved from their sins and receive eternal life, to know God and Jesus Christ/Yeshua the Messiah, then we should want to be one with every fiber of our being.

But the truth is that this goes completely against our nature. Yes, it is an act of the Spirit, not the flesh. We must allow Him to work it in us. We must allow Him to mold us as the clay we are. That is the only way it is possible.

We must live in the power of the Spirit and be submitted to His Torah/Law (Romans 8) so that we may please Him and become one, completely one. This is not just a half way thing, it is an all the way thing. We either are or we are not.

Let us put off the old man and put on the new and be submitted to His will, not ours. If we know what pleases Him and still look for excuses not to be what He wants us to be then what is that?

Let’s live by the power of the Spirit!

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Truly Being One in Messiah

To truly be one in Messiah, it is incumbent upon us to love one another!  We speak rather easy of being one but saying it and living it can be two different things.

We still try to lord it over one another. All too often we are using our own opinions about how things should be done or said to distinguish ourselves from one another. We want to play judge over God’s servants and children. That is not our place.

Our place is to love each other. So much of the book of 1 John is given to this subject. Yeshua tells His disciple that this is what He wants for them in John 13. Why do we try to insist on having things our own way and to our own comfort?

We must be determined to love each other and have the bond of peace among us. If we truly want a revival that is true and lasting than we must make a concerted effort to move in this direction. We don’t want to wait for persecution to force this upon us? That is not what our Messiah wants.

Let’s be determined to be what He wants now so that we will please the One we say we love. Let’s not be so focused on the how we think it should be that we forget the way He wants it to be. Our Messiah wants us to love each other as He loved us.

That is not to say that we accept sin into our communities, but that we stop equating our opinions and desires to the Word. Our opinions and desires are no reason to separate and speak against each other. Even when we do put someone out of the fellowship because of true sin it is always in the hopes of restoration.

May we live up to His command to love one another!

What Does Unity Look Like? Part 1

These next three posts may be some of my more controversial posts yet.  I hope you will bear with me through all three.    I am going to try to really drive home a point and the importance of true Biblical unity.  There may be times when it gets uncomfortable, but then again our Savior did not die so we could be comfortable.  He died so that we could be transformed into His likeness.  With that being said lets begin.

Our history started with the church understanding that whether Jew or Gentile, there was no difference.  However, even within that early history there was division.  And we cannot talk about this subject without hitting a very important topic.  Let’s look at I Corintians 1:10-13, “I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought.  My brothers, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you.  What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas”; still another, “I follow Christ.”  Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized into the name of Paul?”(NIV)  Does that sound like we could just replace a few names and be very contemporary?  The congregation in these verses were even meeting in the same house.  Notice they were not fighting over the style of music, but on who was there leader.

Now let’s go to chapter 3 and read verses 1 though 8.  “Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly–mere infants in Christ.  I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready.  You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men?  For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not mere men?  What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe–as the Lord has assigned to each his task.  I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow.  So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.  The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor.”(NIV)

What is Apollos and what is Paul?  Let’s plug in some other names here:  John Wesley, Martin Luther, John Calvin…..  We have a tendency to follow mere men and go with the opinions of mere men instead Scripture, instead of standing together as one in Christ.  Is that not what a denomination is?  And I write this as a Southern Baptist Pastor’s wife who loves her denomination.  But my denomination is NOT the church!  We’re just a part of it, doing our part.  Laboring for what God has given us.  That’s all!  That’s all any denomination is, doing it’s part.  If denominations ever get so arrogant as to say, “We are the church”, we are in disobedience. 

Like I said this is going to get uncomfortable.  We don’t like to talk about this very often.  And you can read this and say, “Yes, Vicky your absolutely right”.  Yet at the same time we don’t like to have those very important conversations.  You know the ones I’m talking about, those theological discussions on Baptism, the Lord’s Supper, etc. 

We have an unspoken rule in our society that basically says when you go to Uncle Tom’s house you don’t talk politics and you don’t talk religion.  Right?  We’ll we have an unspoken rule in the church that say’s, “When ya’ll get together, don’t take about doctrine.”  Just don’t go there.  Why?  Because we act like mere men when we go there?  But is avoiding those topics the desire of God?  And are we willing to leave behind the milk for the solid food even when we come together.

We have to ask ourselves if our husband wants a dysfunctional bride.  The answer, of course, is no He doesn’t.  Yet a bride that does not talk to each other is dysfunctional.  A family that doesn’t talk to each other is dysfunctional?  Isn’t that how we would classify that?  Is there a branch of your family that refuses to talk to each other or refuses to talk about certain topics? 

I want us to read a few verses in Ephesians chapter 4, verses 1-6, 11-13, and then 16.  It says,  ”As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.  Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.  Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.  There is one body and one Spirit– just as you were called to one hope when you were called–  one Lord, one faith, one baptism;  one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”…“It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”…“From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.”(NIV)

What does that peace mean again?  Oneness.  It represents that covenant, that everlasting covenant.  So when we get together and we talk doctrinal stuff and we start arguing and saying, We’ll I think this and I think that and that’s just the way it’s going to be and we’re just going to have to agree to disagree.  Are we not acting like mere men?  Yes, we are.

This is food for thought until our next post.  I hope I have not run you off.  We will discuss this again next time and then in part three we will discuss how we are to act toward one another.  How do we function as the Bride of Christ in true unity. 

A Member of the Bride,

Vicky

The Heart of God

This is where we live.  This chapter is all about today.  Not about what He did 2000 years ago. Not what we accepted when we came to Christ, but how we live in Christ today.  Because, obviously, He did not take us home when we said, “I do”.  So He expects some things out of us during this period of sanctification, during our period of Kiddushin, He expects some things out of us. 

This is where we are and so it is a matter of upmost importance.  This is the very heart of God for His wife, for His people, for His temple today.  I want to start by looking at a passage out of Ezekiel 37:15-28:

“The word of the LORD came to me:  “Son of man, take a stick of wood and write on it, `Belonging to Judah and the Israelites associated with him.’ Then take another stick of wood, and write on it, `Ephraim’s stick, belonging to Joseph and all the house of Israel associated with him.’  Join them together into one stick so that they will become one in your hand.  When your countrymen ask you, `Won’t you tell us what you mean by this?’ say to them, `This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I am going to take the stick of Joseph–which is in Ephraim’s hand–and of the Israelite tribes associated with him, and join it to Judah’s stick, making them a single stick of wood, and they will become one in my hand.’  Hold before their eyes the sticks you have written on and say to them, `This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I will take the Israelites out of the nations where they have gone.  I will gather them from all around and bring them back into their own land.  I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel. There will be one king over all of them and they will never again be two nations or be divided into two kingdoms. They will no longer defile themselves with their idols and vile images or with any of their offenses, for I will save them from all their sinful backsliding, and I will cleanse them. They will be my people, and I will be their God.  `My servant David will be king over them, and they will all have one shepherd. They will follow my laws and be careful to keep my decrees.  They will live in the land I gave to my servant Jacob, the land where your fathers lived. They and their children and their children’s children will live there forever, and David my servant will be their prince forever.  I will make a covenant of peace with them; it will be an everlasting covenant.  I will establish them and increase their numbers, and I will put my sanctuary among them forever.  My dwelling place will be with them; I will be their God, and they will be my people.  Then the nations will know that I the LORD make Israel holy, when my sanctuary is among them forever.’”(NIV)

The nations will know.  I will make the two one, I will make a covenant of peace, an everlasting covenant with them.  This is what I believe is the very heart of God, oneness with His people.  He wants to be our God and for us to be His people and He accomplishes that through the marriage of His Son to His people. 

As we start to look in the New Testament and our early church history, we see that the church was first thought of as a Jewish sect.  That’s what we were.  Most believers in that early first century were Jewish, they were Jews who recognized their Melech Yeshuah H’Messhia, their King Jesus the Messiah.  So in that first century as Gentile believers started coming into the nation there had to be discussion about Jew and Gentile and so that is where we are going to start. 

Ephesians 2:11-19 says, “Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (that done in the body by the hands of men)– remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world.  But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.  For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.  He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near.  For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.

Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household.”(NIV)

Members of God’s people, of God’s household.  Church hear me, the word ‘church’, the Greek word for ‘church’ in the Greek Septuegant, which is the Greek translation of the Old Testament, is used in talking about the congregation of Israel.  It is not exclusively a New Testament term.  The church is the congregation or assembly of Israel.  God seeks to make all His children, whether Jew or Gentile, one.  That is His purpose, to create in Himself one man out of the two.

I want to say very clearly at this point, I know there is a lot of talk out there in theological circles about replacement theology, which says that the church replaces Israel.  That is NOT what I am talking about.  I want to make that very, very clear.  The church did not replace Israel.  We have the awesome privilege of being brought into citizenship in Israel and to share in their covenant promises. 

Romans 9:6b states, “For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel.”(NIV)  What Paul means by that is that just because one has the physical lineage of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob does not make them a member of the Spiritual nation of Israel.  Because only in Christ, only in Messiah, does that happen.  Even Jews must recognize their Melech Yeshuah H’Messhia, they must recognize their Messiah.

Romans 10:11-13 reiterates this, “As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.”  For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile–the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.””(NIV)  He takes the two and makes them one.  Remember we are talking about the heart of God and what God desires for His own people.  This is God’s desire for us as we live out this life of following Him and awaiting Him.

We then find in Romans 11:12 & 15-21 & 23-26a, “But if their transgression means riches for the world, and their loss means riches for the Gentiles, how much greater riches will their fullness bring!… For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?  If the part of the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, then the whole batch is holy; if the root is holy, so are the branches.

If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root,  do not boast over those branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you.  You will say then, “Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in.”  Granted, but they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but be afraid.  For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either…. And if they do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again.  After all, if you were cut out of an olive tree that is wild by nature, and contrary to nature were grafted into a cultivated olive tree, how much more readily will these, the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree!  I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in.  And so all Israel will be saved”.

All Israel, the holy assembly of God’s people whether Jew or Gentile will be saved.  The heart of God, oneness among His people.  We have to be careful, the church has become awefully Gentile in the last 2000 years.  True?  True!  But we must not forget our roots, remember it was already mentioned that in the first century we were Jewish.  The church was Jewish.  The Apostles kept going to the Temple, they continued to celebrate the Feasts.  However as we became more and more Gentile we lost connection to the root.  We must remember and not stand on arrogance that we are the Church.  But remember that we stand on a root and they are our root and one day those branches that were broken off will be grafted back in.  You see there are not two trees of the church and Israel.  There is but one tree.  And we will all stand together in that oneness and in His covenant of  peace before God Almighty and marry His Son, those who have called on the Name of the LORD.   

Later in that Romans 11 in verses 30-32 we find, “Just as you who were at one time disobedient to God have now received mercy as a result of their disobedience, so they too have now become disobedient in order that they too may now receive mercy as a result of God’s mercy to you.  For God has bound all men over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all.”(NIV)  Jew, Gentile it doesn’t matter.  We all broke the first covenant.  We are all in need of a new covenant, every one of us.

A Citizen of Israel,

Vicky